This month marks 10 years of Playtime, which as it turns out is 350 columns. It seems that somewhere between the second college tour and the third — which is a plane ride away — is the time to throw in the towel. The towel in this case is screenshots of any event, resource or option that was a fit.
I have been unconsciously avoiding writing this, turns out. As I keep trying to sit down and sum up what it’s meant, how fun it’s been and what I am grateful for, things have been trickier than normal. I am sensitive and animated on an average day, but with so many recent changes (some of them child-height related) and with many more uncharted territories on deck, I’m about as likely to cry as much or feel as nostalgic for any activity that includes all four members of “Team Marx” — including during the Barbie movie. That is to say, very likely.
Since there is no real way I can sum it all up or fully explain what it has meant for me, I figured I’d give a little background of how I got the gig, share some of my favorite columns and say “Thank you.”
In 2009, I saw a post on Facebook from My Edmonds News requesting kid holiday pics, and I jumped at the chance to send in our Santa picture. Not only are both kids smiling, but they are wearing matching sweaters and the baby, after a bout of not gaining any weight as an infant, is more Santa shaped than Santa himself. This marks the beginning of my relationship with Teresa and My Edmonds News — and later, MLTnews and Lynnwood Today.
Fast forward to 2013 and Teresa posted a call on social media for a local parent to write a column. As I was already trying out some blogging at that point, I absolutely jumped at the chance and was thrilled to get the opportunity even though I had a “day job” as it were, which was really much more of a morning job 5:30 to 9 a.m. on weekdays. At that time, I was really in the thick of it with 7- and 4-year-olds, and hearing/reading the words “spirited” a lot.
That takes us up to last year at a summer get-together for My Neighborhood News Network. Founder Teresa Wippel and I were chatting at one of the opportunities where she is more Charlie and less Bosley, since we get to be face-to-face. We talked about how long writer Larry Vogel and I had been a part of the site, and the conversation turned to just how long I could reasonably keep going since, at that time, I had just started hearing the word college in a planning way and not an “eventually” kind of way.
Telling Teresa that I planned on making it through the college admissions process was a pipe dream. Since I’ve had so much help with watching friends and relatives go through these kinds of processes just a year or two ahead of me, I wanted to pass along anything that I could. Now on the other side of applications for next fall and with my child being accepted in many places, I see that my experience — as almost always with my kids — is nothing like I expected it to be. It’s wonderful and terrible, it’s right on time yet unimaginable, better than I’d hoped and worse than I could have pictured. It’s dramatic, I get it, and it doesn’t feel like hyperbole today.
In these 10 years, I have met so many incredible people and covered so many fun events and thoughtful resources. I’ve watched Megan Wolfe and her crew of parents and now employees launch Girls on the Run SnoCo and keep it going through a pandemic. You can read one of the early columns HERE and find them at GirlsontheRunSnoCo.org. On the same note, I got to follow along as local parents, including current Executive Director Kim Gorney, saw a need and launched Washington Kids in Transition (WKIT). The organization was meant to cover students served under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, but it does much more now — I think this is the first time I covered the movement that turned into WKIT. You can find them now at WashingtonKidsinTransition.org. I am happy any time I run into Wolfe and Gorney, whom I now consider friends, as we are at the same events our kids are at anyhow. I will use this opportunity to say I also know Emily the Edmonds Elf, who I was introduced to via My Neighborhood News Network, you know, at the North Pole.
I got to sit down and talk to Allan “Hawkeye” Sande, founder of Quiet Heart Wilderness School, as he was preparing to say “Goodbye” and pass the — I would say torch, although with that camp it’s always a sharp object, which the kids learn to use properly — but I suppose it’s also fair to reference fire. I mean Hawkeye stopped traffic in the library as a local celebrity/superhero to those who knew him from camp and special programs in schools around town. You can catch that column HERE. Speaking of local celebrities, I also got to publicly say “Goodbye” to my kids’ favorite teacher of all time — Joel Villalobos — as Villalobos moved on to another job. I am so grateful to go back and read THIS from time to time, as the older I and the kids get, the foggier some of the memories are.
I also had the chance to thank Debbie Johnson from Edmonds Parks and Rec for hooking us up with our first camp and therefore our first drop-off preschool and Mrs. Parker, who still works at Meadowdale Preschool. (I just read there is an opening or two and my oldest loved it there — you can find more info HERE.) Ok, I am so glad I didn’t promise to keep it short, but the camp also led us to the Ranger-Naturalist Program with too many Rangers to thank. We had a birthday party featuring Ranger Karen, a Marx kid favorite, which I also highly recommend and you can read about it HERE.
After a nicely worded recommendation to calm down/relax from my pediatrician, I followed the article she referenced to the book 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do), which we checked out from the library. We licked batteries, tried to set fire to dry leaves with magnifying glasses, and other stuff that pales in comparison to almost anything they have access to now. You can find that column HERE.
As a mom of young kids on a tight budget, I utilized the Sno-Isle Libraries a ton. One of our kids was a reader who we couldn’t keep up with, and Librarian Sarah came to his preschool and helped him at the reference desk, again, as a celebrity to him. The library also played an important role for our reluctant reader, who utilized Reading with Rover, audio books on CD and online, and many a graphic novel. Plus, forever “Thank you” to the librarian who showed us Culture Grams to help with the mandatory Culture Project in first grade — it was probably Sarah. A quick search of my past columns showed that mentioning Librarian Sarah is not new for me.
A 2015 column titled “My family’s love affair with Sno-Isle libraries” was written prior to the pandemic, when the libraries worked to keep as much access available as possible, and before I started working as a Page for Sno-Isle Libraries. While seeing the job opportunities on Sno-Isle.org, which I came across while searching for details on another event I wanted to check out, I realized that you don’t have to be a librarian to work at the library. There is no non-goofy way to explain just how amazing it is to see the librarians and staff serve the community so far beyond providing books and other media.
As a writer looking for quality events, the library was a constant source of options I felt great featuring. For instance, I loved covering the Fairy Parade put on by Edmonds Children’s Librarian, the now-retired Edith Farrar. You can read about her retirement party HERE.
I have too many thank yous to mention, but I’ll wrap up by thanking my friends who shared events and info they saw with me so I could share it with you. “Thank you” to all of the organizers, businesses, nonprofits and others for answering my calls and emails and letting me share the options or resources you provide. “Thank you” to my unpaid editor, more commonly known as Kevin, who edited the columns and marvels at my lack — or abundance — of commas, often on a Friday night after the writing deadline whistle has blown. A special “Thank you” to Teresa for the opportunity, the platform, the guidance, her mentorship, openness, confidence and understanding. Thank you for allowing me to continue to be a part of My Neighborhood News Network through a yet-to-be- determined option at a to-be-determined time.
Of course, “Thank you” to everyone who read the Playtime column. It has been so great sharing this experience with you.
— By Jennifer Marx
Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.